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the power of forward movement in platforms

Friday,  01/08/10  08:06 AM

<rant>

It is Monday

The Apple iPhone dominates the smartphone market.   It has the best features and the largest installed base, and most importantly the best application ecosystem, with thousands of third-party applications which enable the iPhone to do lots of additional things.   Also rans include RIM’s Blackberry, and Palm’s Pre.   There is an interesting challenger from Motorola called Droid, which runs Google’s Android system; it is getting high marks for an open application development environment.   Still no significant challenge to Apple seems possible.

It is Tuesday

Google announces their Nexus One phone!  It is the best implementation of Android yet, slick, capable, and pretty.   Reviewers like Walt Mossberg in the WSJ like it.   Momentum changes.   The market story becomes Apple vs Google.   There are comparisons made at the feature level, and at the application ecosystem level; most give an edge to Apple for their large base, but tip Google for a better development environment.   The feel of the market has changed overnight, because of Google’s forward movement in their platform.   Suddenly it appears to be a two horse race.

It is Wednesday

Palm announces the Pre Plus!  It is newly available on Verizon, the largest cell network, in addition to Sprint, the smallest, and has spiffy feature improvements such as a “hotspot” feature which enables it to serve as a WiFi hub (!)   Importantly Palm opens application development entirely, enabling Adobe to ship Flash for this platform; neither the iPhone nor Android support Flash.  The story becomes Palm’s comeback.   The feel of the market has changed overnight, because of Palm’s forward movement in their platform.   Suddenly it appears to be a three horse race.

It is Thursday

And so we see how quickly markets can change.   A competitor does something, and the market dynamics shift.   The change can be subtle, but once the playing field shifts everything repositions.   Tomorrow RIM might announce changes to the Blackberry platform, and then it could be a four horse race.   Or Apple could announce something new, tilting the market once again to reassert their dominance.

This delightful dance shows how important it is to keep chugging, keep trying to understand what customers want, and what developers want, keep making improvements, keep iterating.  The phone competition is especially interesting because the entrants are not just products, they are platforms; each phone OS not only provides a raft of features to consumers, it enables a much larger raft to be created by third-parties.   The shifts in phone features don’t move the market as dramatically as the shifts in application ecosystems; that's the power of forward movement in platforms.

It is Friday

What will happen?  Who will win?

</rant>

 

Friday,  01/08/10  05:30 PM

I am in a great mood right now.  Nothing is more boring than a happy person, sorry, I wish I had some deep issues to discuss, but I don't.  Just got back from a great ride - Rockstore (again), and met a fellow rider who pushed me to do it hard - and am now contemplating a nice dinner out with 4/5th of my family and then a weekend with nothing to do but code.  How great is that?

open platformsI reread my "platforms" post from this morning and got some email in response from some of you; this is going to be a good discussion, I can tell.  Important for me aside from the philosophy of it, too, because what we're trying to do at Aperio is create a platform, not only deliver great systems to customers but also create an environment for others to make our great systems greater, and the tactics employed by big successful companies like Apple, Google, Palm, and RIM make for instructive consideration.

House of PalmApropos Palm debuted their House of Palm app store today.  Importantly the site is optimized for viewing on a Palm (!), and they have RSS feeds (!!) although sadly the feed items are truncated and lacking graphics.  I will be monitoring their progress with great interest :)

MSN: It's all about the apps.  An interesting point: "With most apps now selling for nothing - 80% of the downloads from Apple's app store are free - the challenge for developers isn't writing software or even getting it accepted by Apple or Google. It's getting paid."

Tim Oren: Is Nexus a Platform War mistake?  "I think Google's move is no mistake, and the analogy to the PC market is false in this case. Both for the same reason: Wireless carriers."  He goes on to cite two purposes for Nexus, a high-end exemplar of what can be done with Android, and a market test for smartphones not subsidized by a carrier.  I get the second move, it's cool and bold and perhaps only Google could do it (Apple couldn't or at least didn't, they used AT&T).  But the first motive seems false; putting the high-end exemplar out there competes with all your distributors.  How do Motorola feel about their would-be-high-end Droid now?

Intel gets into the act with an app store (lamely called "AppUp"), but I don't get it.  These are applications for Netbooks, Linux-based.  I don't get Netbooks, and they've been flying off the shelves, so there's a lot here I don't get :)

augmented reality iPhone controller helicopterThink this augmented reality concept doesn't have wings?  Then check this out: the first iPhone-controlled augmented reality helicopter.  The first but not the last; this might seem like a toy but imagine the possibilities...  really this is a sort of Avatar.  (We need a 3D camera version :)  Stay tuned for a lot more of this sort of thing.

Possibly one thing standing in the way of augmented reality is the term itself; something catchier and less geeky is needed.  <your phrase here>

extended album art: Pink Floyd's AnimalsThis is beautiful: extended album art.  In which artists imagine the larger scene in which various albums were set...  Pink Floyd's enigmatic Animals is extended beautifully!  [ via Boing Boing ]

A well-reasoned and informative rant: Why you should use OpenGL and not DirectX.  If the "you" in question is a game designer, that is.  The availability of OpenGL on mobile platforms like iPhone and Pre has become important.

Lost: What?  If you've lost a "what", you might find it here :)

 
 

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